about a game..., Board Gaming, Game Design

Viticulture – A Small Game Company Kickstarter Success Story

“In vino veritas”

Alcaeus – Ancient Greek Poet

Toga! Toga!

Let me begin by saying I am not a wine drinker. I really don’t know anything about wine. I don’t even like wine. My wife, on the other hand, does. I do know that wine has many properties. Some would say a glass of wine a day promotes better health. In my experience, it promotes powerful headaches. My 10 year old son, on observing a buddy of mine ordering a glass of wine with dinner at the incredible Santorini Greek Kitchen in Indianapolis, Indiana at this past year’s GenCon quipped, “Oh, do men drink wine?” Obviously this is a reflection of dad’s aversion and his mom’s appetite for the stuff. The phrase above, attributed to a number of different sources over the years, is an observation on one of wine’s many side-effects, that of “truth serum.” All of us have either ourselves been a victim of, or seen someone under the influence of wine, speaking freely about something they perhaps would otherwise not have been so honest about. While I am not under the influence as I write this, I have to be honest about something: Viticulture, a game about winemaking, looks pretty “elegant.”

Most of my wine drinking I do in a wife-beater.

One of my best friends from college, Tom Sessi, is a winemaker. Well, sort of. He calls himself a “négociant,” or someone who assembles wine manufactured by others and sells it under his own label. He has some thoughts about what makes a good wine. One element is mother nature. The quality of the components (grapes, the climate, their hang time, etc.) is critical. The other is the winemaker and their decisions (how long and in what types of container to age the wine in, additives, etc.) His ultimate conclusion to the query: “What’s a great wine? I always say the definition of a great wine is a wine you like! Taste in wine is like taste in almost everything else: subjective. Somebody else may tell you it is a great-tasting wine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to like it.” (I am still waiting on my free bottle. Of course, I probably owe him a few phone calls…)

The game will need a lot of space for all the pieces and parts, and cheese trays.

These qualities apply in equal force to what makes a good game about wine, from my abecedarian aspect. And from what I can see from the makers of Viticulture, they have the spirit and theme of owning your own winery down cold, and have the components and design to prove it. Alan Stone and Jamey Stegmaier are the brains behind Stonemaier Games, whose “lifelong dream has been to publish a strategic (Euro-style) board games.” Congrats boys, you have hit the big time! Their first Kickstarter offering, Viticulture, has more than doubled its funding goal with a day and a half left to go, and a few more stretch goals in sight.

From a town known mostly for its beer, these St. Louisans have refined a very balanced worker placement and resource management style game along the lines of Puerto Rico or Agricola and pressed it into the world of winemaking. Their Kickstarter site runneth over with a number of video-reviews and game play examples, which give a great perspective about their game which looks strategic, fun and highly competitive, without having to be acrimonious.

Game maker Jamey Stegmaier and I’m guessing cat Biddy dipping into the wine.

The PSS staff will be getting together soon in-person to meet-up with the guys behind the game, so we can give it a full review. We wanted to give them a plug before their Kickstarter campaign closes, and also thank them for everything they are doing. They have done more than just make a game for themselves and their contributors. Their website is a great resource to any other entrepreneurs out there about how to do this “make a game thing” right. Their Kickstarter campaign has been frenetic, multi-faceted and multi-media-ed. Their funding levels, stretch goals and visuals are all incredible. From my perspective, these guys have demonstrated what is necessary to get noticed and get funded, a how-to guide that we should all take note of and emulate with our own projects. For that, we truly are indebted to you guys, and I look forward to what is to come from you guys.

Most of all, they appear to have an incredible game on their hands. And let’s face it, while that is usually a very subjective call, much like what makes a good wine, it is pretty obvious, from the contributors they already have, that there is a market out there looking to manufacture some wine with their friends.

Check out their campaign while there is still time to contribute, and look for our full write up and review of the game in the weeks to come. Salute!

13 thoughts on “Viticulture – A Small Game Company Kickstarter Success Story

    1. Joe:

      “Star” those projects so you get the 48 hour notice e-mail as well as all of the other updates to your Kickstarter account. (Or maybe you do this already, and I am just rubbing it in). Sorry to hear, and when my copy comes in we can get together and give it a go.


      1. Katy:

        Thank you for the advice, and directing Joe to the right resource. Jamey’s personal blog is quite a read, as is yours, so thanks for popping in and saying hello. Looking forward to making everyone’s virtual acquaintances, and getting together for reals with Jamey soon to play some Viticulture.


      2. I’m always happy to help out when I can, and look forward to making new virtual (and real) acquaintances too! I’m anxiously awaiting the real copies to be printed and arrive, and am definitely ready to play a couple rounds of Viticulture whenever the chance arises.

      3. Absolutely thank you. Now I just have to convince Jamey to get me on board with the stretch goals. *bats eyelashes*

        And agreed on Bill’s point. I have two new blogs to follow! 😀

      4. Good luck on that one, Joe! I think you might get a little further with either chocolate or kittens (or both) as a method of bribery. 🙂

        That’s a little bit of pressure to publish more quality writing on my blog now with more new followers. Hopefully, it’ll live up to any expectations!

  1. Played a couple games of Viticulture and chatted about games in general with designer Jamey Stegmaier in St. Louis on Friday night. We played a truncated two player game, then a full length three player game. Both games were fun, strategic, and competitive. The difference in strategies and options between the two and three player games was huge.

    The game has a lot of re-playability value and as I was driving home I was wishing I could have stayed to play in another game Jamey was getting ready for with a couple backers who are also the soon to be proprietors of a new wine bar in the Tower Grove area named Olio and Elaia (check them out at: http://www.oliostl.com and http://www.elaiastl.com).

    Jamey has offered a rematch and I will be doing some cutting and clipping of the PnP game he sent me to do a more detailed writeup of the game in a future installment of this blog. Looking forward to getting together with him again.

    1. REALLY wish I’d have been there for that, but let’s get together soon to rock this out. Arch Reactor’s an awesome space and if I can help it, I don’t miss the board game meetup. Injuries decided otherwise this time around.

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